Kalispell Airport May See New Management - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Kalispell Airport May See New Management

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Kalispell city council is deciding whether to privatize management at the municipal airport.

Kalispell has selected a proposal, from two, to take over management at the city airport, officially putting current manager, Fred Leistiko, out of a job that pays about $32,000 per year plus benefits. Although Leistiko did not want to speak on camera, he says he was not consulted in this decision. Kalispell city manager, Doug Russell explains this is purely a fiscal move, lowering the cost of maintenance by almost $13,000 per year.

"Things that were discussed a lot about during the whole airport vote was how are we going to cover some of those expenditures, so when you're in that situation you look for ways you can save funding," said Russell.

There are three fixed bases of operation (fbo's) at the airport. Red Eagle Aviation is up for the management position, but Kalispell Air Repair and Diamond Aire also perform maintenance. Owner of Kalispell Air Repair, Peter Gross, did not even submit a bid when asked by the city because he sees a conflict of interest.

"When you have three different businesses operating on the airport and one of them is given the position of management of the airport, there's a potential that company will receive preferential treatment," explained Gross.

The city is not changing how the airport is kept, just who is keeping it.

"The city will still maintain the responsibility for some of the other maintenance components within the airport, so it's just a mixture that we were able to come out that we think makes sense for being able to contract some of these various services out," said Russell.

Although Gross will not be at the city council meeting on December 2, he hopes the council looks into another option.

"Kalispell city airport needs to have an outside fourth entity managing the airport," said Gross.

If approved in the 7:00 p.m. meeting, the contract would take effect January 1 and last for the next three and half years.

At the open meeting in city hall, the council will also talk about whether to let council members appoint advisory committee members. Right now, only the mayor gets this privilege.

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